CURB UNEMPLOYMENT THROUGH A PLACE-AND-TRAIN APPROACH

Source: MDEC files

‘Full time’ jobs are probably a thing of the past.

Besides accelerating digital adoption for businesses and individuals, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the nature of employment and how we perceive success through the jobs we have.

The reality is that workers need to be flexible and agile as the work structure has been disrupted and future jobs will either be on contract basis, part-time or temporary, according to a recent news report in Free Malaysia Today. It proceeds to state that among emerging jobs, 9 out 10 jobs are related to STEM learning, creating an evident shift in the skills demanded.

Creating jobs is the first step, not the last.

Pockets of relief have emerged job-creation wise, within the digital economy, as the norms of physical distancing seem to continue to play out amid worries of asymptomatic Covid-19 positive patients and new clusters.  

The CMCO was perhaps the first joint step between both government and private sectors, to restart the economy and preserve jobs. However, as we brace for eventual recovery, creating jobs alone, is not enough. Just as crucial is ensuring that workers are equipped to handle the shift in skill demand by employers and the overall job market.

Opportunities to digitally reskill or upskill are here.

With the need for greater digital adoption among businesses, governments and communities, major players in the digital ecosystem who are leading this change, have been the first to present opportunities to upskill and reskill, to ready talents for future jobs.

Huawei Malaysia for instance, just launched the Huawei ASEAN Academy, to empower digital talent in Malaysia. It is expected to provide more than 3,000 information and communications (ICT) courses, and groom 50,000 Malaysian talents over the next five years.

To address the issue of unemployed workers and presenting them with opportunities to digitally upskill or reskill, a partnership between MDEC and Coursera called ‘Let’s Learn Digital’ was launched recently. SAP Malaysia earlier also collaborated with MDEC as part of the latter’s #DigitalVsCovid movement, for SAP to nurture talent, build a future workforce and grow the digital ecosystem.

The pandemic bares the inherent limitations of training and placing.

Physical distancing also translated to effects on the education supply chain, affecting education systems and delivery as they were.

Technical and vocational education and training generally requires physical attendance.  The current limitations imposed by connectivity and access plague this process of upskilling. Also, once trained, placement is a separate process to training. There isn’t a guaranteed conveyor belt from education and training to placement.

The deeper issue of matching graduating talents to tech or digital jobs linger, needing urgent attention, that pertains to the over 300,000 graduates who enter the job market annually. These graduates come from every conceivable type of educational institution from the polytechnic and university, to the TVET institution.

The challenge is not the size or speed of the conveyor belt of education to employment, but its relevance. Training and placing workers has long been the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’ in the quest to create gainful employment.

Perhaps it is time to revisit and invert this approach, as we face pressures to respond quickly to business needs which are knock-on effects of the pandemic, to face the new global economy ahead.

Leverage strengths to meet demand for digital skills.

According to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2020 (GTCI 2020), Malaysia has moved up two spots, to the 26th position out of 88 countries. The country outperformed high-income economy countries, such as China, South Korea, Spain and Portugal.

In a recent news report, MDEC’s CEO, Surina Shukri aptly stressed that these achievements reinforce the fact that Malaysia is on the right track to develop industry-ready digital talent as the global economy explores a new norm. Are we then, leveraging this advantage at a national scale?

Though Malaysia ranks well on the GTCI, another reality has to be considered as well; Digital business models and platforms are profoundly reshaping how businesses work. Even as far back as 2018, the World Economic Forum projected that while nearly a million jobs may be lost, another 1.75 million will be created. Is Malaysia preparing for this burgeoning demand?

In the local context, even in pre-pandemic times, SMEs had already been expressing a dire need for digitally skilled talent, which are not in ready supply. According to MDEC’s CMO Raymond Siva in a webinar by Marketing Magazine titled The Survival Guide for SMEs Post MCO-Lockdown (Focus: Agencies) last week, a quick survey conducted by MDEC on 5 job portals which included LinkedIn, SeekAsia and Jobstreet, showed that there were close to 5000 digital jobs vacant, pre COVID-19. With digitalisation and innovation in the new normal, these numbers could be far higher.

Place and train, not train and place.

As unemployment numbers in March rose to 610,000, the need to resolve the glaring gap between talents graduating and the digital skills sought, take centre stage.

“MDEC is currently assessing the demand and supply in the digital job market, specifically to identify the roles and skills requiring attention. Immediately evident are the businesses looking for coders, programmers, developers, designers and data scientists, to serve game industry, global supply chains, e-Commerce and cross-border trading. Job matching is top-of-mind for both the government as well as the private sector”, expressed Siva.

“MDEC will be organising a campaign next month to bring the talent supply and demand to a focal point and drive activities that will facilitate matching. The aim is to also explore ‘place and train’ as a new norm as it will better match the skills needed to the people already available or with a baseline skills that can be upskilled to requirements ”, said Siva.

COVID-19 may have created socio-economic vulnerabilities, but the digital economy and ecosystem offer an equitable remedy to relieve the economy. Full time jobs may be a thing of the past, but skilling, reskilling or upskilling an individual for new roles in employment is here to stay; and for those who are agile and adaptable, opportunities abound.

#LetsBuildTogether #DigitalVsCovid #KomunikasiKita #DigitalEconomy #KitaTeguhKitaMenang

Cerita saya tentang E-Wallet. Apa cerita anda?

Hampir 10 tahun ‘meninggalkan’ Kuala Lumpur kerana bertugas dan menetap di Machang Bubok, Bukit Mertajam, yang merupakan sebuah pekan kecil di utara tanah air, penulis kembali ke ibu kota untuk memulakan tugas baharu di sebuah agensi kerajaan di Cyberjaya.

Secara kebetulan, agensi ini terkait rapat dengan usaha mendigitalkan ekonomi Malaysia. Sejujurnya, penulis tidak ‘menyedari’ kewujudan agensi ini walaupun ditubuhkan oleh kerajaan pada 1996 namun kini ia menjadi tempat mencari rezeki.

Namun begitu, tidak ada yang perlu dimalukan kerana sememangnya kita tidak tahu semua perkara dalam dunia. Maka, ungkapan setiap hari merupakan proses pembelajaran terpakai dalam konteks ini. Maafkan saya jika ada yang tidak bersetuju.

Sepanjang ‘berumah’ di utara, boleh dikatakan amat jarang untuk penulis berkunjung ke ibu negara, hanya beberapa kali sahaja jika ada urusan penting.

Mungkin selesa dengan kehidupan serba sederhana dan tenang di sana, termasuk urusan harian yang dilangsungkan secara konvensional. Sudah pasti, sebuah warung yang menyajikan kopi kampung terbaik dan pelbagai kuih – muih sentiasa diingati. Penulis kadang – kala membayar mengunakan syiling sahaja kerana harganya yang sangat murah. Tidak ada istilah e- Wallet di situ.

Namun demikian, penulis sedar sejak beberapa tahun lalu sudah muncul istilah ‘cashless’ berdasarkan pembacaan.

Penulis tahu di China, rakyatnya menggunakan e-wallet untuk urusan harian termasuk membeli kopi di Starbuck.

Ketika di utara, penulis hanya menggunakan kad pra bayar touch and go, itu pun kerana pada 2015, terdapat satu polisi bahawa tiada lagi pembayaran secara tunai di plaza tol. Penjelasan yang diberikan oleh pihak konsesi dan kerajaan ketika itu ialah kerana mahu mengurangkan kesesakan di akibat transaksi tunai.

Masih ingat lagi, usai pengumuman berkenaan, media sosial ‘meletup’ dengan pelbagai reaksi, ada yang menyokong namun ramai juga yang tidak bersetuju kerana alasan keputusan itu tidak peka kepada pengguna yang tidak mempunyai kemampuan membeli kad pra bayar.

Wujud juga kekeliruan maklumat bahawa pemilik kad pra bayar harus memasukkan jumlah RM50 setiap kali tambah nilai. Nah, sumpah seranah memenuhi dinding media sosial.

Berbalik kepada cerita e-Wallet, pada bulan pertama bertugas di tempat baharu, penulis diarahkan menghadiri seminar Hari Terbuka E-Dagang Malaysia yang dianjurkan di bangunan indah serba moden reka bentuknya yang dimiliki Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (MITI).

Penulis masih belum memiliki kad touch and go yang baharu kerana kad lama hilang. Akibatnya, penulis tidak dapat memarkir kenderaan di kawasan yang disediakan kerana hanya pengguna yang memiliki kad touch and go sahaja boleh memasuki ruang berkenaan.

Terpaksalah mengundur kenderaan dan dihon oleh pemandu di belakang. Penulis terpaksa meletakkan kenderaan di bahu jalan luar bangunan itu sambil berdoa tidak disaman.

Ketika waktu makan tengah hari, pengunjung berpusu – pusu menyerbu beberapa food truck yang disediakan. Penulis juga mahu ikut serta kemeriahan itu namun kecewa apabila melihat peniaga meletakkan papan tanda pembayaran e-Wallet seperti kod bar, Alipay dan sebagainya.

Sedikit hampa, penulis mengatur langkah mencari kantin di bangunan berkenaan dan berharap pengendalinya masih menerima bayaran tunai. Akhirnya, makanlah nasi campur berlauk ikan goreng kerana hasrat hendak membeli burger kambing yang dijual pengusaha food Food Truck tidak kesampaian kerana ketiadaan e-Wallet serta aplikasi pembayaran yang boleh dimuat turun menerusi telefon pintar. Ya, saya masih old school, retro, klasik atau tradisional.

Bulan berikutnya, penulis bertugas di Bangsar untuk satu program pada hari Jumaat. Pada waktu solat Jumaat, penulis singgah di sebuah masjid. Apa yang menariknya, tidak kelihatan tabung untuk jemaah menghulurkan sumbangan seperti kebiasaan sebaliknya pengurusan masjid memaparkan bar kod untuk pengunjung yang berhasrat memberi derma. Penulis kagum dengan evolusi e-Wallet yang semakin meluas penggunaannya.

Akhirnya, penulis mula membeli kad touch and go baharu untuk memudahkan urusan harian.

Melalui beberapa bacaan, penulis mendapati menjelang 2022, hanya 17 peratus pembayaran global dibuat secara tunai manakala penggunaan dompet digital dan mudah alih akan terus meningkat mencecah 28 peratus daripada semua urus niaga jualan.

Menurut www.paymentscardsandmobile.com, sehingga Februari tahun lepas, China merupakan negara yang mempunyai pengguna mobile e-Wallet tertinggi di dunia dengan mencapai 26 peratus diikuti India dan UAE sebanyak 6 peratus.

Sedikit mengecewakan apabila portal berkenaan mendapati kadar penggunaan mobile e-Wallet di Malaysia hanya satu peratus sahaja namun ini tidak bermaksud negara kita ketinggalan. Jangan jadikan kes penulis sebagai contoh!

Menyedari kepentingan masyarakat tanpa tunai yang terkait rapat dengan ekonomi digital, kerajaan mula melaksanakan beberapa langkah terutamanya Inisiatif e-Tunai Rakyat yang diumumkan dalam pembentangan Belanjawan 2020.

Menerusi program ini, rakyat Malaysia yang memenuhi kriteria di bawah boleh mendapatkan RM30 secara satu kali dengan Boost membabitkan peruntukan RM450 juta bagi menggalakkan budaya digital dan peralihan kepada masyarakat tanpa tunai.

Bagi memastikan inisiatif terbabit mempercepatkan proses digitalisasi, wang RM30 itu perlu dibelanjakan penerima hingga 14 Mac 2020, manakala baki yang tidak dibelanjakan akan luput selepas tarikh berkenaan.

Selain itu, rakyat perlu menuntut wang berkenaan selewat-lewatnya pada 9 Mac depan melalui pengendali e-dompet terpilih.

Kerajaan turut menggalakkan semua peniaga supaya berdaftar dengan satu atau semua pengendali e-dompet supaya mereka mendapat manfaat daripada inisiatif ini.

Difahamkan, hingga kini, lebih lapan juta peniaga menyediakan perkhidmatan pembayaran melalui e-dompet berkenaan.

Semoga langkah ini akan merancakkan lagi budaya masyarakat tanpa tunai di negara kita dan penulis bersedia untuk bergerak ke arah e-Wallet sepenuhnya. Anda bagaimana?

#LetsBuildTogether #BinaBersama #DigitalMalaysians

Artikel oleh Mohd Firdaus Ismail

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